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Based in New York and Seattle, Ritani was founded in 1999 by current CEO Brian Watkins. Interestingly, even though Ritani only has a decade of business operations in the jewelry industry, they had quickly risen through the ranks and established themselves as a premium brand amongst consumers.
What sets Ritani apart from other online vendors is their seamless integration of online shopping and physical retail operations. With a unique “clicks and bricks” approach, Ritani’s network of curated partners has expanded across the entire United States and you can easily find a Ritani authorized jeweler near your location. In fact, their success was so phenomenal that Forbes named them as one of the top 40 most promising companies in 2014.
In this review of Ritani, I’m going in-depth to do an analysis of the company’s services, products and policies. Will Ritani stand up to the test or are they simply over-hyped and pure marketing fluff?
Excellent Shipping Practices
For international shoppers, it would please you to know that Ritani ships to more than 70 countries globally for free. To put your mind at ease, Ritani also offers free return shipping in the event of a refund within their 30-days money back guarantee.
If required, Ritani is also able to ship your order to an alternate destination for pick-ups. Alternatively, you could also get your item shipped to one of their in-store preview partners where you can walk-in to collect your purchase. Personally, I love their generous shipping policy as it eliminates the risks that are often associated with online purchases.
An overview of the shipping process at Ritani.com
Lifetime Jewelry Warranty
In the online diamond jewelry industry, it is the norm for vendors to provide lifetime warranty for a consumer’s purchase and this typically covers all forms of manufacturing defects.
Ritani offers the same and does it even better by allowing you to drop off your ring at any of their retail partners at a location near you. The jewelry partner will then be responsible for sending the ring back to Ritani for repairs. Do note that one-way shipping costs are still borne by you and Ritani will bear the other one-way costs.
Trade In & Upgrades
Ritani offers a lifetime upgrade where you can receive a 100% credit towards a new purchase. The terms for this upgrade are that the new diamond must cost at least 50% more than the value of your original diamond. You can also have the option to keep your original setting or trade it in for credit towards a new setting.
Financing & Buying On Credit
Ritani does offer some financing plans to help consumers buy jewelry. In my opinion, there’s nothing fancy or special about their offerings and they are pretty much the same type of credit plans offered by other vendors. You can choose to pay off your purchase within 6 months and enjoy 0% interest on your installments.
In my opinion, Ritani made their claim to fame in the jewelry industry as a result of their beautiful and unique ring settings. Unlike many other jewelry businesses where the manufacturing is outsourced and mass produced in 3rd world countries, Ritani’s jewelry production is all done in-house.
With state-of-the-art facilities in New York and highly skilled bench jewelers, every single item is carefully made to the finest craftsmanship standards. From the Ritani settings I had seen and examined upclose, I would say that they all had a very consistent quality and are some of the best I had seen.
The most impressive feature about Ritani’s settings is the micro pave setting technique they pioneered (a micropave is a series of melee diamonds mounted in extremely close proximity). Speaking from a mechanical engineer’s point of view, it is extremely difficult to automate the manufacturing process to create these rings. That’s the reason why Ritani’s rings are all handmade as intricate features and detailing can only be achieved by extremely skilled bench jewelers.
You can actually see their signature micro pave technique in many of their designs. In the example to showcase the exquisite setting technique, there are 3 rows of micropavé diamonds in the 18kt white gold wedding band.
Ritani Endless Love Review
The Endless Love collection is a series of wedding eternity bands with exquisite rows of micropave diamonds lining the entire ring.
A classic eternity ring design to commemorate your love for someone.
Ritani Romantique Collection
The Romantique collection features antique styled ring designs with hand carved Grecian leaf motifs.
This beautiful vintage ring design features surprise diamonds along the shanks.
Ritani Bella Vita
The Bella Vita collection is basically a nice name for a halo engagement ring where the center stone is surrounded by round melees.
This halo diamond ring is crafted to extreme precision and quality.
Ritani Anadare Collection
The Anadare collection is a series of ring designs with distinctive twisted and coiled shanks. Anadare means “tie together” in Italian and the double helix design symbolizes the unity of 2 people’s love coming together.
You can get more details about this ring setting here.
This collection showcases designs that are handpicked by Ritani’s master designers. You’ll find some of the most outstanding works made by Ritani over the years here.
A hand-casted split ‘V’ pavé ring to hold a cushion cut diamond in the center.
If you didn’t know yet, most online retailers work with a virtual inventory listing where they don’t own the diamonds. To keep costs low, some vendors even dropship the diamonds from their suppliers directly to their customers without ever seeing the diamond.
Ritani’s approach to selling diamond jewelry is very consumer orientated and vastly different from the usual practices of online vendors like BlueNile. It’s true that Ritani works with a virtual inventory as well but their competitive edge lies in the partnerships they have with local jewelers.
Ritani understands that there are some people who aren’t comfortable buying a diamond online without seeing it in person. Their free in-store preview allows you to view a made-to-order engagement ring or loose diamond in person at a local partner’s location without any obligations to make a purchase.
The other aspect of Ritani’s outstanding customer service is a feature called the Virtual Gemologist.
This is a unique service that benefits uneducated shoppers who aren’t sure how to make a diamond selection. What happens here is that you can shortlist up to 4 diamonds you are interested in and speak to a professional who will guide you through the pros/cons of the individual diamonds.
Through this consultation, you can get access to HD videos, images and an analysis for free. Do note that this is not a magic pill for people who are looking to buy a diamond with the best possible cut quality. I’ll show you how to do that in a moment…
Ritani’s website is beautiful and remarkably easy to navigate. Kudos to their web design team for coming up with such an awesome layout. Overall, the website really sets you in the right mood for diamond jewelry shopping.
An intuitive and straightforward diamond search panel
The diamond search interface is easy to use and allows you to filter your choices based on different parameters. If you are familiar with the rest of the content on Beyond4Cs.com, you would know that I recommend using these functions to cherry pick diamonds.
As a guideline, you can also use these recommended proportions as filtering parameters if you are buying round diamonds. This will help you quickly weed out 90% of the badly cut diamonds.
One thing I love about Ritani’s interface is that they allow you to filter their inventory using a length-to-width parameter. Believe it or not, the majority of other vendors don’t offer such a feature! When it comes to buying fancy cut diamonds, this l/w parameter can instantly help you sort out diamonds based on the kind of outlook you are looking for.
While some selected listings have HD videos incorporated, the majority of diamonds DO NOT have videos or even basic images. It’s a bummer. You should never base your purchasing decisions on a grading report alone because this is a very risky way to buy diamonds.
A generic computer generated image for their virtual inventory.
To be fair, Ritani.com is still a lot better than the majority of online retailers because they are willing to gather the additional information upon request. Though it’s inconvenient for a consumer to wait a couple of days, it still beats buying a diamond blind.
Now, Ritani has gotten many aspects of their website usability right. However, they apparently “forgot” to work on their video interface. The problem I have is that the diamond video interface isn’t intuitive and is difficult to use. Apart from choppy videos and slow loading times, it’s a hassle to rewind or forward the video when interacting with the diamond.
Don’t believe me? Test it out for yourself here and try pausing the video to examine the diamond at different angles.
Try controlling the video with a ridiculously tiny blue bar indicated by the red arrow.
Now, compare this user interface with James Allen’s videos. You’ll immediately notice a huge difference in the video rendering and also the ease of which you can drag and turn the diamond.
Straightforward and excellent interactive controls with James Allen’s video technology.
There’s a lot of hype about how awesome Ritani’s reserve diamonds are. These diamonds are supposedly the “cream of the crop” and have achieved the best cut grades possible issued by AGS/GIA. If you are interested, you can read up on their marketing sales pitch here.
It sure sounds impressive if you have zero knowledge about diamonds. However, once you start looking at the details and inspect the cut quality of the reserve diamonds in-depth, you will start to see it doesn’t live up to its hype.
In my opinion, Ritani’s standards for categorizing their “Reserve Diamonds” leaves a lot to be desired. I’ll explain why by using some random examples of diamonds from their inventory below…
Well, let me tell you that I would classify this diamond as being scraped from the bottom of the barrel of AGS 000 diamonds. When rating a diamond as the “best of the best”, I expect every single aspect of the diamond’s cut to be the best.
Wait, I know are probably thinking: “Hey, isn’t an AGS000 supposed to be the best rating a diamond can receive for light performance and it guarantees the best optics?” Well, I’m sorry to say that this isn’t true. The problem here is that NOT all AGS000 or GIA triple excellent diamonds are made equal.
Now, I sent in a request for more details about the diamond and the Sarin scan actually estimated the diamond’s GIA cut grade to be “Fair”. Yes, you read that right. This AGS 000 didn’t even deserve an Excellent or Very Good cut grade at GIA because it will get severely penalized by its dug out girdle.
FYI: Digging is a weight retention technique employed by cutters to save weight on the rough stone. It also causes the optical characteristics of the diamond to be completely changed and results in an awkward scintillation pattern. In many scenarios, jewelers are able to get away by sending the diamond to AGS for grading because AGS doesn’t penalize the stone as heavily for girdle digging.
Source: Painting And Digging Out, GIA
To show you an example of an extremely well-cut diamond, refer to this example from Whiteflash. This should be your benchmark for cut quality when shopping for “super ideal” diamonds. In contrast to Ritani’s diamonds, the WhiteFlash diamond is worlds apart in terms of cut precision and optical performance.
You can verify the details through the Idealscope, ASET and Hearts & Arrows scope images.
First of all, I want to go on the record saying that I love the AGS lab for their consistent grading standards and their ASET light performance evaluation report. There’s actually nothing much you can learn from the Scintillation report itself since the ASET from an AGS grading report offers more details about the diamond’s performance.
To sum it up, the AGS Scintillation report can be considered a marketing gimmick created as a sales tool for Ritani. In my opinion, it is just as “useful” as the overly inflated appraisal documents offered by other jewelry companies.
What’s surprising is that I found even more examples of lower-tier AGS 000 stones within Ritani’s “top-of-the-line” reserve diamonds. If you always thought of Ritani’s diamonds as being tip-top, this revelation will shock you.
Diamond #2 – Yet Another Mediocre Stone
This diamond has an overly steep pavilion angle and dug out girdle. The ASET image shows a mediocre performance of the diamond. You can view the diamond at this link and download the grading report directly here.
Diamond #3 – High Crown And Leaky Diamond
This diamond has substantial light leakage under the table facet and will show up with less brilliance. This is evident in the ASET image as the area under the table appears dark. You can view this diamond here and download the grading report directly here.
Diamond #4 – Epic Fail GIA Diamond
This GIA graded diamond in Ritani’s Reserve Collection is perhaps the worst of the lot. With a depth of 63.2%, this diamond faces up smaller for its weight and has achieved a cut grade of “Very Good”. Seriously, what were they thinking when selecting this diamond as part of their signature collection?
Now, I could go on and continue to list more examples here but I think you get the point.
Given Ritani’s reputation for delivering fine jewelry, I wanted to make sure I did a thorough review. In fact, I spent 2 hours looking through every single diamond in their reserve inventory (131 to be exact and I did the review during Dec 2014).
Sad to say, I only found one single diamond that met my selection criteria based on proportions and ASET data. To make things worse, this was a diamond that didn’t have video and image details in its listing.
You can click this link to view the listing at Ritani.com
JamesAllen.com vs. Ritani.com
WhiteFlash.com vs. Ritani.com
In terms of pricing, I would say that Ritani’s diamond prices are fair and comparable to other online vendors. As you can see above, I had used diamonds with similar specifications of the 4Cs in the comparisons and the differences are not significant.
Ritani is most well-known for their fantastic craftsmanship and setting designs. I fully agree with that view as I had seen Ritani’s settings in real life and the quality is outstanding. However, the problem with shopping for a diamond ring at Ritani.com lies in the cut quality of their Reserve diamonds.
You need to be extremely picky and know exactly what to look out for.
Luckily, there’s a way around this issue. You see, Ritani has partnerships with authorized dealers where you can purchase their setting for the same exact prices shown on Ritani.com. This means it isn’t compulsory to buy your diamond from Ritani.com for their setting. Coincidentally, one of my recommended vendors for super ideal cut diamonds, WhiteFlash, happens to be their authorized jeweler.